1927 | Milan

To Virginia Woolf

Vita Sackville-West sends one out to the one she loves.

I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia. I composed a beautiful letter to you in the sleepless, nightmare hours of the night, and it has all gone: I just miss you, in a quite simple, desperate, human way.

You, with all your undumb letters, would never write so elementary a phrase as that; perhaps you wouldn’t even feel it. And yet I believe you’ll be sensible of a little gap. But you’d clothe it in so exquisite a phrase that it would lose a little of its reality. Whereas with me it is quite stark: I miss you even more than I could have believed, and I was prepared to miss you a good deal. So this letter is really just a squeal of pain. It is incredible how essential to me you have become. I suppose you are accustomed to people saying these things. Damn you, spoilt creature; I shan’t make you love me any the more by giving myself away like this—but oh my dear, I can’t be clever and standoffish with you: I love you too much for that. Too truly. You have no idea how standoffish I can be with people I don’t love. I have brought it to a fine art. But you have broken down my defenses. And I don’t really resent it.


Vita Sackville-West

From a letter. A poet and a novelist, Sackville-West delighted in writing about the English countryside and tending its gardens. She married the diplomat Harold Nicolson in 1913, with whom she openly shared an affinity for extramarital homosexual affairs. Virginia Woolf in 1928 posed her as the model for her heroine in Orlando.